Monday, April 29, 2013

Well, It Is Gymnastics Season After All.....

     More gymnastics coming your way here. The season runs from January till June so that's what's on our agenda in increasing measure until June. Then there's a break of sorts.
      I'm going to do a future post on why we do what we do.....but for now let's just say that two of our beauties have chosen gymnastics as their activity and they both wanted to try competitions this year. This has been our 'training season' so to say to get to know the sport from the competitive side. Boy, oh boy is it mensa level confusing for the 'rents who like to know the goings on inside and out. We are on a steep learning curve that's taking shape slowly. We have chosen to compete AAU for now because.....well, that's the future post I was talking about. Coming soon. This past weekend was the Florida State AAU Gymnastics Championships in Tampa. First of all, I LOVE and ADORE Tampa. I could live there. Second of all we didn't know what to expect as this was our first State Champs experience. We just knew it would be huge and teams/girls from all over the state would be represented. In fact, we learned hundreds of girls competed in waves starting at 8am until nightfall depending on their age/level. There were 3 gyms running constantly in the same ginormous room at the Convention Center. I think it freaked the girls out a little when we first arrived because not only were there hundreds of participants but the bleachers were packed with onlookers. Our little ladies rose to the occasion with their usual 'calming down from the coach' moment. We were just happy to qualify to go and loved having a family weekend playing together. Competitive Gymnastics runs from Level 2 all the way up to Level 10 and then Elite. Our coaches are retired Elite gymnasts and really know their stuff. What's better is that they LOVE our girls more than they want to win and each girl gets remarkable one on one attention from them. You usually compete a level down from where you are training in order to perfect skills when you are having to do them in front of judges. This year Blondie competed Level 2 and Mei Mei at Level 3. They will both move up again over the summer. Here's some pics from our little getaway.....
Blondie performing on floor. She scored a 9.475!


Warming up for vault.....and another big score!

Getting a pep talk from her coach before beam.....

I think we were all just as shocked to find out our Blondie WON her whole division and was crowned Level 2 State Champ 1st Place All-Around!!! Lots of hard work went into this! Woot!

Quite possibly my fav pic of the meet. This was right after Blondie won her 'title' and Mei Mei was showing her off.

Love this pic of this beauty. No, she's not jealous of the others. She doesn't have any desire to do gym......get her to a horse and she's just fine. The parents make sure there is fair time given to all and that she has lots of activities to do while the others do their thang.....

Mei Mei's Level 3 was on a completely different day.

Rockin beam.

Cutie!

Muscle bound Lil Mama...(but don't tell her she's little. She'll get mad....)

Smile:)

I love this because it shows just how small she is in comparison to the other competitors in her level.

Mei Mei placed 3rd Overall All-Around in her division! Another shocker because of the amount of girls and how tight the scores were! Woot! Top Three is amazing!!

Best bar routine EVER! See the judge in the red hair? They sit so very close!

Flyin hair jump (she landed square back on the beam...) See how much activity is going on around you? If you don't focus you fall! It has been awesome to watch them both learn this!

Can't say enough about our coaches and the attention these girlies get. Blondie has gained so much focusing ability from this sport!! The discipline of it makes these parents really happy!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

How We Educate the Little People In Our House

     I've had all these ideas for posts lately swirling around in the ol' grey matter but since I rarely ever get to actually sit down at a computer things haven't made it from the to actual written words. With this post I'm going to start on how we educate the littles since most of their time (and mine) revolves around the 's' word.....school. If you know us personally, you know where this post is going and feel free to click off at any point. Or, you may even go to school with us and if you stick around you may have something to add as a comment. Here we go.....
     We have 5 awesomely intelligent, bright kids. We've done public school, private school, and home school. They are all excellent viable choices in today's world. We've done home school strictly at home (made me gag....too isolating), home schooled with a co-op, home schooled part time while taking outside classes.....pretty much covered the gamut on the home school market. When the littles came to us our son was still in public high school and our oldest daughter was part-time home schooled/taking outside classes. She actually spent her high school graduation day with us in China. I actually think we were climbing the Great Wall the day of her graduation. That or we were eating chicken feet and/or had eyeballs staring at us from our food.  Can't remember.
     When it came time for the girls to start school I was stumped. The older two of the littles are only a year apart and I wanted to develop some sort of criteria list for how we were going to school them, so I began to look around at the schools in our area.......not omitting homeschooling as a viable choice.
       After careful consideration, for the first two years we chose complete homeschooling. Mostly because these girls came from such disruptive backgrounds and now had a new China sister, that we wanted unhindered bonding time for them and me. Homeschooling it was, and it was good.
First day of school 2012. They are all in the same school!!
     Pretty soon though about a year and a half into our new girl school venture I began to get itchy feet. I wanted out of homeschooling. It was too isolating for me (yes, we did alot of outside activities....and remember I had a newly adopted China doll with RAD, and a SN 5 yr old. Tricky, tricky, tricky business) and mostly I wanted to be involved more in ladies ministry and volunteer work. I knew I was done (after 20+ years) of homeschooling full time. Finito. Done. It was time for the little ladies to go to school. But I also LOVED being in charge of their education and character building. I loved the time with them and was torn about what to do.  We began scouting out schools.  A big, big, deal to us was that all 3 girls needed to be in the same place. I didn't want to trade our 'home' days for being in the car carting 3 little girls to different places and having them only know me from the back of my head. No bueno. That wasn't going to work either. What I found was that public school was right.....private school was right....and homeschooling was right. We also felt that it was important that each of our kids be challenged and working in a school that was academically requiring them to work consistently at the upper level of their intelligence. Kids need to be challenged y'all. No slacking allowed! ( I confess....I am a school Nazi about education).  I made a list to sort through what would work best for us. We definitely wanted an actual school (vs a co-op or just outside classes)....and we hit the bulls eye.
Field trip to Wycliffe Bible Translators learning about missionaries.

Me and my 2nd grade peeps gleaning corn to donate to local food banks.

The Doc and I felt that the girls needed something they could 'own' and belong to, that they could call theirs.... something with academic excellence, sports, and friends that were a part of a bigger picture of teamwork, unity and our Christian faith.
     We found a school that is the best of both worlds. For the last (almost) 4 years the girls have gone to a private accredited 'hybrid' school in our town. They go Tuesday and Thursday from 9-3 and are taught by certified teachers in a VERY structured but grace filled classroom full of the most awesome kiddos you would ever want to meet. Friday's are 'enrichment' day and they again are on campus taking classes that include Drama, American Girls, Personal Fitness, Backyard Science, Art, Creative Construction, Music.....and the list could go on and on. What then about Monday's and Wednesday's? Well, those same certified teachers send home detailed lesson plans that you the parent follow while you and your child stay at home these other two days. So, we got everything we wanted in a school. The girlies are in a private Christian accredited school.......and they are home with me two days. The great thing is that I don't have to come up with lesson plans or do any planning for that matter.....AND the girls are working at a much higher academic level than I would've required of them had they stayed home full time. After being around for 15 years, this school is a well-oiled machine. We absolutely LOVE the staff, the teachers and can't say enough about the families we have grown so very close to. They have bent over backwards to accommodate us and any special issues we have had. It is indeed a marvelous thing to know the staff and the other families have your back. Win, win, win, win, win.
The squinkies working hard on a recent home day. Organized chaos it is!
     Last year the school (through a very good friend) even offered me a job. Score again. With the exception of a day here and there, when the girls are at school I'm there with them in some capacity (I teach Personal Fitness on Friday and Substitute teach or volunteer in their classroom the other days). When you have adopted kids, anxiety can be an issue.....add that to some learning differences, and my presence at the school along with the structure of the classrooms has proven to be a HUGE piece of the puzzle solved in these girlies education.
      It is a lot of work. On our home days we work easily 6 hours or more. If you've been keeping track you will notice we work around 6 hours on Monday/Wednesday then we are all on campus Tues/Thurs/Fri...... a full time job. but it's oh so worth it. These little ladies have risen to the occasion and are thriving in such a loving caring environment. I'm not sure what the future holds, but for now we could not be more grateful and excited about how God has directed us in giving us this option for the girls educations. It's exhaustingly awesome!

   
Rah, Rah, Rah!
P.S. If y'all see typos in this post please do not judge. I stayed up waaayyy late typing!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Favorites!

      Another crazy week is behind us. The girls had standardized testing all this past week (ask me what I think about this sometime....uhm, yea) and I also proctored the test for students needing extra help. That meant 'rising earlier than normal' days (I already get up at zero dark thirty so... sheesh...but we all did it and it worked...whew!) in addition to their regular after school activities and my teaching schedule on Fridays. The girls LOVE testing week because our school makes it fun for them and they don't have near as much homework. Win win for the ladies!
     In addition to a busy week I had my nose in Boston, Waco, Sichuan, China (earthquake), the Gosnell fiasco, tainted letters to Senators, and ...........can we just stop and pray for our country and world??!! I typically don't watch the mainstream media because of bias,  well.....many reasons but mostly because it breeds anxiety in the girls. They are old enough now to know what's going on from very little information so we have to be very careful what we let in our house. However on that note, we also want them to know we live in a fallen world and they need to not be naive about evil. We walk a very fine tightrope when major news happens......like this week.
      Which brings us to this week's Sunday Favorite. Each of our girls has their own life story...just like you or me. We are all individuals with our own histories and family stories to tell.....duh, right? But what happens when your history has holes......and you just don't know......when you don't have even the smallest bit of information about even how old you really are, where you were born, how much you weighed, what you looked like.....and you could feel ashamed, and you suddenly FEEL like you are not like everyone else?
     This is my girls everyday. Yet it's interesting how people feel it's their right to pepper me with questions IN FRONT OF THEM, or better yet....TO THEM about their histories and pasts. I will say it clearly...... People can be unthinking, hurtful and just plain stupid.(Not all people.....but you know that, right?)  As the girls have aged it's become other children who are asking the questions mostly. I don't blame curious kids. They pretty much say what they are thinking, and just need to be taught social boundaries when there are issues out of the norm surrounding them.
     Here's what we've done about it and it's called The Wise-Up Powerbook, by Marilyn Schoettle. The premise of this book is that you (the child) is in charge of your own story. You (your adopted/foster child) walk through your feelings when others question your history, and you decide how much/when you answer other's questions. When ANYTHING others ask you makes you uncomfortable you can say, "That is personal knowledge about my story and I don't want to share it right now", and you change the subject.  Boom. Done. Subject closed. When other children start peppering my girls about 'where is your "real" mom, how did your parents get you, why did your "real" parents put you up for adoption?', they have pre-rehearsed answers to say so they are not put on the spot in that moment, and most importantly they REMAIN IN CONTROL of their story, not the other way around. The only information given is what THEY want known. We have made it clear to our girls that "you DO NOT have to answer all questions thrown at you." It's more than ok to tell kids and other nosy adults (they have been taught to be respectful so this can be hard)...... NO. It has been a great relief to them many many times.
     Kids are naturally curious as are adults. I've met kids that have more self-control over their words than many adults, sad to say. This book has been an excellent tool to allow the girls to work through their emotions and their answers, so that when confronted with an awkward 'questioning moment' they know exactly what to say. Love, love, love it. If you have adopted or know someone who has, this is a great tool!

   
   

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Favorites-- The little girl that was left in a box at the orphanage gate.....

Psalm 68:6--God settles the solitary in a home.......

Almost 8 years ago a newborn little girl was left in a box at the gate of an orphanage. Today that same little girl made her decision to be baptized and follow the Lord all her days. Today we watched a miracle take place in her life.  Mei Mei was one of 50 people to be baptized in Lake Virginia by her dad and our pastor, each with their own story to tell of redemption, salvation, rescue. The Doc is on staff as an Elder at our church so he got to be a part of all the baptisms from the water, but this one......this little girl....this daughter we prayed for, flew around the world to hold, have nurtured and raised for 7 years.....was today's standout for us........and brings you this weeks favorite post. The beach at the lake held a few hundred people today, but our focus was on one little girl......